La Zorra y El Cuervo
Larampa (23rd) between Calle N & O, Havana, Cuba
The coolest jazz club I’ve come across, this Havana institution La Zorra y El Cuervo (‘the fox and the crow’) is a step back in time. Havana showcases the glory of bygone days, boasting classic vintage cars, stunning colonial architecture and streets packed with smiling locals.
A block from La Zorra, people queue for two hours to buy ice-cream from the famous ‘Coppelia’, which serves 35,000 people a day!
You enter La Zorra via a bright red British phone box and descend to a basement cloudy with sweet Cubano cigar smoke. Yes. I’m romanticizing smoking—few places in the world allow people to smoke indoors now. But do risk the cigar smoke in the soft light of this cramped basement to immerse yourself in the ultimate atmosphere for listening to great live jazz.
I frequented the club over the month we were in Havana. Want to know a secret? Like most things in Cuba it’s government owned, so regular advertised jazz nights are geared to tourists. Entry and drinks are affordable (around $10CUC / $10USD), but it’s crowded, so show up early if you want a seat—a good idea, as shows starting around 11 go until as late as 3am.
On those nights, we saw some of Cuba’s greatest jazz musicians. Recent big names to play La Zorra include: George Benson, Chuchu Valdes & Roberto Fonesca. The passion and skill of this calibre of artist is jaw dropping at close range. However, we were lucky to connect with some of the young up and coming players, who took us back there on a Saturday afternoon. Then the real magic happened. A regular (but unadvertised) jam session of Cuba’s greats meeting with local regulars performed epic improvisations of mind-blowing proportion and intensity. The bonus—$1.00 Saturday afternoon Mojitos!
Since Fidel’s passing, Cuba is changing fast. Check out La Zorra when in Havana. Few places like this are left in the world—bucket-list it now!
Photography & Review by Aurora Jane